As was the case with the 2/6 stamp, a denomination of this size would have seen little postal use, being used only for registered letters that had a high insurance value, larger parcels or bulk mailing receipts. This was a revenue issue as well, since it was inscribed "postage and revenue", and so some stamps would have seen revenue use, though interestingly, I have not come across many examples with fiscal cancellations, which suggests that they were not often used for this purpose, unlike the high value stamps of many other colonies were. Thus it is likely that many fewer printings were made, perhaps as many as 20, but unlikely more than this. Given the low rate of usage, it would be my expectation that there would be many late usages as stamps from the "bottom of the post office drawer" finally got sold and used up. Consequently, I would expect the remainder total of 18,900 stamps to have come from a large number of the printings that were left over when the next supply was received by post offices and placed on top of the old stamps.
I have 22 mint and 5 used examples of this stamp, which I will sort into printings starting with those made from the first state of the plate.
As it turns out, I did identify 18 separate printings:
- 6 from the first state of the plate (approximately March 1887 - about 1890).
- 7 from the second state (1890 to about 1893).
- 3 from the third state (1894 to about 1899).
- 2 from the fourth state (1899 to 1900).
Group 1:Printings 1-6 - Printings From The First State of the Plate (March 1887 to Approximately 1890)
As stated in all my earlier posts, the first state of the plate is characterized by nearly all of the fine detail in the hair, jewels and diadem being clearly visible and with little to no merging of the hairlines at the top of the head, and most detail of the hair at the very back of the head visible both above and below the diagonal ribbon.
The head plate colour of this printing is also closest to deep dull green. The duty plate colour is closest to Gibbons's blue shade.
As stated many times in other posts, the third state of the plate is characterized by a lack of detail in the hair at the back of the head, especially the hair above the diagonal ribbon. There is also merging of the top three to five hairlines at the top of the head.
The defining characteristics of this state of the plate are the almost complete loss of detail in the hair at the back of the head, and merging of the hairlines above the crown to the point that only a narrow band of hairlines in the middle retain their detail. The horizontal shading lines in the band of the crown are beginning to merge together.